There are 69 days until the NFL Draft begins. And while the Chicago Bears have to wait an extra day before they go on the clock, there is still much to discuss.
Let’s get to it!
- All drafts aren’t created equal. Position group strength varies from year-to-year. So with that in mind, we should keep this in mind as we enter this journey:
How I'd rank the relative strength of each position group in the 2020 draft class:
— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) February 12, 2020
- From a Bears perspective, it is good to see wide receiver, offensive line, and cornerback as positions of strength in this draft. Not only do the Bears have needs to fill in spots on those respective depth charts, but they should be eyeing long-term replacements from the draft, as well. Strengthening those key areas would be a great step toward making Chicago’s football team a contender in 2020.
- Unfortunately, the Bears have needs at positions of perceived weakness, too. For example, seeing tight end at the bottom of the list is pushing me from wanting the Bears to use a second-round pick on the position, and instead opting to snag a late-round sleeper. There’s no need to reach for a prospect at a position of need when there are better players on the board.
- It also stinks to see safety, edge, and interior offensive line on the bottom half of the rankings. This isn’t to say there aren’t going to be standout players at those spots. It’s just that a projected drop-off from the top prospects and the tiers below appears evident.
- In his latest mock draft from PFF, Renner sends Washington QB Jacob Eason and LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry III to the Bears with the 43rd and 50th picks, respectively. Eason draws a comparison to Missouri’s Drew Lock, who had first-round buzz but ultimately fell into the second round. The Broncos view Lock as their quarterback of the present (and future) after watching the Joe Flacco experiment fall apart. Eason’s arm talent is elite, but the inconsistency is what could keep him out of the first round.
- Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy knows a thing or two about working with draft prospects with high-end arm talent who have inconsistencies in their game. And while I would never draw a direct comparison to Patrick Mahomes, I can’t stop myself from thinking about how complimentary the league’s best quarterback has been when discussing Nagy’s role in shaping him into being the quarterback he is today. It’s stuff like that which draws me into the idea of the Bears taking a second-round quarterback.
- The Cushenberry pick intrigues me because players the Bears have met with (Appalachian State linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither) or connected to in previous mocks (Florida edge rusher Jonathan Greenard) are still on Renner’s board when the pick goes in. Cushenberry drew rave reviews for his Senior Bowl performance, which makes Renner believe the LSU center’s rough 2020 was an outlier. Chicago has had success moving centers prospects out to guard (James Daniels, Cody Whitehair), so perhaps new OL Coach Juan Castillo could keep this going.
- NFL.com’s Chad Reuter’s mock draft has the Bears taking Cushenberry’s teammate Damien Lewis with the first of their two second-round. Lewis is a guard by trade and is coming off a solid season with the national championship-winning Tigers. Lewis was first-team All-American (The Athletic) and second-team All-SEC (by the AP and Coaches) and started all 27 games LSU has played in our the lat two years. Durability and excellence will go a long way toward gaining prospect buzz ahead of the draft.
- Reuter’s other selection for the Bears is Jordyn Brooks, a Texas Tech linebacker who projects to be a plug-and-play guy from the get-go. Brooks was recognized as a first-team All-Big 12 performer, an All-American by PFF, The Athletic, and the Walter Camp Foundation. Brooks was Mel Kiper’s top-rated linebacker prospect headed into the year, so there’s some unique prospect pedigree I can’t ignore.
- I’m not sure if a Sam Darnold comp for Jordan Love is going to shoo people off or make them more interested, but here you go:
The concerns surrounding Jordan Love mirror those of Sam Darnold pic.twitter.com/k20T3odOem
— PFF (@PFF) February 12, 2020
- And then there’s Anthony Gordon, the Washington State product who has caught Sage Rosenfels’ eye as a quarterback analyst:
Can a Quarterback progress when his first read isn’t there?
Can he move subtly in the pocket to help out his protection?
Is he accurate?
Anthony Gordon does all three on this play. #2020NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/KlW2P5d33u
— Sage Rosenfels (@SageRosenfels18) February 10, 2020
- There is always something to be learned from your past evaluations. So I found that reading this from Chris Trapasso to be good for the soul:
From yesterday: The lessons I've learned from scouting the past six NFL Draft classes, using Mason Rudolph and Courtland Sutton as examples, plus the only tenet I have. https://t.co/iqAOQnwVIo
— Chris Trapasso (@ChrisTrapasso) February 12, 2020
- Jordan Reid of The Draft Network dropped a two-round mock draft, and it’s one in which the Bears address needs at positions that we discussed earlier as not being as deep as we’d like. Reid has the Bears taking Penn State pass-rusher Yetur Gross-Matos with the 43rd pick. Gross-Matos’ profile reminds me a bit of Leonard Floyd, in that he does a lot of things well, but isn’t truly exceptional at one particular thing. That might not be a comp Bears fans love, but getting jack-of-all trades edge type on a rookie-scale deal as a long-term replacement for Floyd wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
- With Chicago’s other second-round pick, Reid sends Washington tight end Hunter Bryant to the Bears. Bryant is a pass-catching tight end, solid route-runner, and someone who has the look of a playmaker. If Chicago can slide Trey Burton into the “Y” role, then I can envision Bryant as a “U” tight end who lines up in the slot and creates mismatches in the passing game. The last line of Bryant’s Draft Network profile is eyebrow-rising: “If Bryant is put in such a flex role, look for early production and long-term starter status in the pros.” Look, any time you can get a long-term starter in Round 2 of the draft, you should probably take him.
- For what it’s worth, this tight end class feels top-heavy. So perhaps the value is in snagging one early, rather than risking the roll of the dice that comes late. NFL Network analyst Charley Casserley lines up one player for each team to keep an eye on at the upcoming Scouting Combine, and for the Bears, that guy is Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet. We’ve had Kmet on our radar since he declared for the draft, but Casserley believes “there are several guys who would fit well” in the Bears’ offense. And while Kmet is the only one he lists as a player to watch at the combine, name-dropping Purdue’s Brycen Hopkins is worth mentioning — even if Casserley has Kmet at the top of the class.
- Division II prospects might not be at the top of many fans’ minds, but there’s a real buzz building around safety Kyle Dugger:
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) February 13, 2020